DoD News Briefing, Tuesday, April 6, 1999 - 1:40 p.m.
(Also participating in this briefing was Major General Charles F. Wald, Vice J-5 and Rear Admiral Thomas Wilson, J-2)
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.
I'm going to make several announcements and then we have two briefers from the Joint Staff. The first briefer will be Major General Charles F. Wald, who is the vice director for Strategic Plans and Policy, the so-called J-5 shop. Then we have Rear Admiral Thomas Wilson, who's well known to you. He is the director of Intelligence for the Joint Staff, the J-2 shop.
Let me ask that you hold all questions until the end of Admiral Wilson's briefing, and then we'll allocate the questions among the appropriate answerers.
Secretary Cohen will leave for Europe tonight. He will arrive in Brussels tomorrow and meet with Secretary General Solana and also consult with allies. He will also go to SHAPE and hold a meeting with General Clark to review the military operations. He is taking with him a congressional delegation that includes Senators Hagel of Nebraska, Levin of Michigan, Lieberman of Connecticut, McCain of Arizona, and Reed of Rhode Island, and Hutchinson of Arkansas; in addition, representatives Buyer of Indiana, Gejdenson of Connecticut, Skelton of Missouri, Spratt of South Carolina, Tauscher of California, and Turner of Texas.
After spending a day in Brussels and at SHAPE, he will visit U.S. and allied air forces in Aviano on Thursday. We may also stop at Ramstein on the way back to review the humanitarian efforts there. Ramstein is sort of a central shipment point of equipment from and through Europe to Albania and Macedonia.
Secondly, as you know, earlier today the White House announced that Macedonian refugees will go to Guantanamo Bay. We at the Pentagon are currently making arrangements. We estimate that the first refugees could be there in the next three or four days. This will be the first of 20,000. We expect it will take about 45 days to bring all 20,000 there. We're currently contracting with civilian air carriers to bring the refugees to Guantanamo Bay where they will remain temporarily while--one, to relieve pressure in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; and two, to wait for the situation there to be sorted out so they can eventually return to their homes in Kosovo.
Q: How long for all of them to get there? I'm sorry. I missed that. Was it 25 days?
Mr. Bacon: Forty-five days we estimate it will take to get all 20,000 there. Now this clearly is an approximation, but that's our best estimate at the beginning of the process. We could do it in less time; we could do it in more time, but we're estimating 45 days.
Let's wait, and we're going to have questions at the end, okay? If we have questions in the middle, it will take forever, and it won't be very systematic.
Q: Are you going to take general questions after the briefing?
Mr. Bacon: I will take questions until the cows go home.
Q: How about until the refugees go home? (Laughter)
Mr. Bacon: On that note I'll turn it over to Major General Wald.
Major General Wald: I'm going to give a brief overview of the operations over the last 24 hours. I'll start with the weather.
As you can see on the chart starting from your left to right, red is worse, yellow is better, and green is real good. In the last couple of days the weather has improved, and today it looks very good. We expect that to sustain over the next day or two, which is being translated in more operations and more ability for us to execute the mission.
Quickly, from the last 24 hours you can see the targets. Over 30 different targets struck over the last 24 hours arrayed from northern FRY down to the southern part and into Kosovo.
The rectangular box you see in the lower southwest corner of Kosovo is a box that we've been concentrating on for VJ and MUP military actions over the last 24 hours.
The targets have varied from military targets, primarily, all the way down, and that includes the VJ/MUP fielded forces; their fuel, their sustainability, POL, bridges and roads for their lines of communication to encumber them from moving around any more than they have already, and to keep them from sustaining their force. Command and control, and IADS, or air defense, continues throughout the mission.
Quickly, there's obviously a humanitarian effort going on as well. The sustained hope is the U.S. portion of the humanitarian relief effort, SHINING HOPE, will be called the CJTF Command Headquarters. That will be announced shortly.
The missions themselves are originating out of CONUS for the relief. Strategic lift -- both civilian 747 airlift, heavy lift, as well as strategic military airlift, both from California and the East Coast and Dover.
The majority of the strategic lift from CONUS is going into Ancona, Italy, where there's a transshipment point where the supplies are then transferred to C-130 aircraft that will transship that supply into Tirane, Albania, out of Ancona. Expect about 10 or so C-130 sorties a day. We'll get into some of the details later.
Additionally, airlift, strategic intratheater lift as well as tactical lift from Ramstein Air Base in Germany, are transshipping goods into Macedonia, Thesssaloniki, Greece, where at that point they will be shipped into Skopje and then transshipped to the relief aid areas into FYROM itself.
The level of effort to date, as you can see in Albania, over 100,000 humanitarian daily rations have arrived over the last couple of days. There's an assessment team in place in Albania that will then work with the civilian international agencies [sic, Tanker] to ensure the food is properly shipped to the refugees. There's also a Tactical Airlift Control Element there in Albania that will then set up an operation in Tirane to help coordinate the tactical airlift that comes in from Ancona to make sure the airlift is properly coordinated into Tirane, which is a small airfield. It's a fairly bare base. It's not what you traditionally see in the United States where there's a control tower, day/night operations. It's fairly bare base. So TALCE will set up not only a command and control element to make sure the airfield is up and running, but the coordination of the offload of the humanitarian relief aid.
They arrived two days ago.
Into Macedonia itself, there's also an assessment team there, arrived two days ago. They've had about 4,000 HDRs arrive. They have a lot more coming in the future. I'll talk to that in just a second.
But the magnitude of effort overall from the U.S. perspective is about 500,000 tons of humanitarian relief are planned over the next few days into both Albania and Macedonia.
For Albania, starting today we expect another 70,000 humanitarian daily rations to arrive. There are 700 tents being shipped -- those are 30-person tents, Thirty persons comfortably, more if you need. They're being shipped from California. They should start arriving around the 11th of April. Then plans are for at least another 400,000 HDRs to be shipped via commercial air into Ancona and then transshipped once again into Tirane, then off into the humanitarian aid relief agencies near the relief areas.
In Macedonia itself, we're planning for 600,000 humanitarian daily rations to be sent from the depots, from Ramstein Air Base, as well as you can see the cots, sleeping bags, blankets--8,000 sleeping bags and over 2,000 blankets. Then another 200 tents, 30-person tents, will be transshipped from Ramstein into Thessaloniki, Makedonia Air Base, and then up into Skopje, and then forwarded on to the humanitarian bases.
That concludes the operational brief, and I'll be followed by Admiral Wilson. We'll take questions later.
Rear Admiral Wilson: Good afternoon again. It's good to be with you.
This is the functional battle damage assessment. You've seen this kind of a chart before from me. It's our way of addressing the target sets, not specific numbers.
The air defense system is still a functional air defense system. It continues to be degraded. It's a gradual process. I think the last time I was up on this podium we talked about both physical damage as well as suppression. We continue to do both successfully -- taking out early warning radars, a few additional SAM radars and SAM systems, as well as the communications, command and control, that supports the integrated air defense systems. And we continue to show the ability to operate tactically in areas that we need to operate to conduct attack operations in the targets of choice.
We still continue to eliminate front-line fighters, but the MiG-29s are about half down, and additional MiG-21s have been destroyed on the ground since the time of our last briefing.
So I would say that the air defense system is still a threat, and we still continue to be able to operate in it through a combination of physical degradation and suppression.
We see increasing evidence that the command and control, both for air defense and for the army and police, is being degraded and is affecting their ability to operate, although it too is redundant, and they continue to have command and control of their units.
The intelligence capability continues to be degraded as well, as we've conducted attacks against additional sites that are used to cue their air defense systems.
There's been an increased number of sorties flown against the police and the army. We do have indications through multiple sources, including some sources that remain on the ground in Kosovo, that they're suffering increased losses of personnel and equipment. Some of this is in the field. More of it is in staging areas, and we've continued to hit hard at their garrison locations in Kosovo and the area around Kosovo.
In addition to ammo, which we were hitting fairly hard the last time I talked with this group, we are increasing the pace of operations against both tactical and strategic POL storage sites, transfer locations, depots in both Kosovo and in greater Serbia.
So that is having a continued increased effect on the VJ and the MUP or the army and the police.
I think this industry and infrastructure target set continues to support our objectives in degrading the army and the police.
Next slide, please.
I'd like to talk to you a little bit about what I know you're all interested in, the VJ Third Army which operates in and around Kosovo. It's divided up into two corps. The Nis Corps and the Pristina Corps. They're further divided up into brigades -- motorized brigades, mechanized infantry brigades, armor brigades, infantry brigades, which operate or in garrison in Kosovo or in the area near Kosovo.
They're under the Third Army, which is headquartered at Nis. And, of course, they're under the Minister of Defense and the General Staff located in Belgrade.
This chart is designed to show those elements that we know we have attacked successfully and destroyed or degraded or damaged a portion of the force. These are brigades which are garrisoned and operating in Kosovo under the Pristina Corps. If it shows the headquarters block red, that means we have successfully attacked and confirmed damage or destruction at the headquarters location.
These are the symbology for the brigades themselves, whether armor or mechanized infantry or motorized brigades, artillery down here. That indicates that we have successfully attacked forces in the field or forces at staging areas outside of their garrison areas. It doesn't mean we've destroyed the entire brigade or even attacked the entire brigade, because they are divided up into battle groups which operate in the field, joined by the special police forces which are more or less the infantry which are conducting the damage in Kosovo.
This is where we have evidence that we have successfully attacked a portion of that brigade in the field.
The same is true for the Nis Corps. In some cases their headquarters, for example this is in Nis, the 211th Armor Brigade. We attacked their headquarters, but we also attacked some of their forces at a staging area in Kosovo itself, this motorized infantry unit in Kosovo as well as this artillery unit in Kosovo.
Then it's cued to the locations on the map, and you can see the triangles are where military units were attacked in their garrison areas.
The squares are POL. These are more of the tactical storage areas or operating areas in Kosovo. You can see other POL facilities which have been successfully attacked outside of Kosovo but along the key lines of communications leading into Kosovo. The same is true for this symbol here, which is ammunition.
These are ammunition storage facilities here, large ones, which were attacked. In fact there actually were two here in the Pristina area, then a large ammunition manufacturing facility up at Cacak.
This is a helicopter base at Nis which was successfully attacked as well.
The last point I'd like to make on this chart is to really get more leverage out of the attacks on the infrastructure support, the POL and the ammo.
We have begun the last several days to attack bridges along the key lines of communication which lead from Serbia proper into Kosovo.
These four or five red symbols here are bridges, which were either dropped or badly damaged by air attacks in the last two days, and we have other bridges which we don't have results for on other key lines of communication here and here which come into Kosovo.
By successfully dropping the bridges along those routes, we can reduce the through-put potential to get POL or ammo or food or things into the units which are conducting operations into Kosovo itself.
Q: What's a special unit corps? Can you tell us?
Rear Admiral Wilson: It's kind of equivalent to our special operating forces. They have a unit, headquarters unit, which is up in Belgrade, and they have detachments which operate in Kosovo. Some are there now. They also operated there last summer. They, along with certain elements of the police, are some of the ones which have conducted the most egregious operations, both last summer and now, in Kosovo.
This is a similar chart, but this is for the Ministry of Interior Police, which I think you all know by the acronym we use, the MUP.
Generally speaking, these are light infantry-type paramilitary, which are the infantry force to go along with these battle groups in the field. And when you attack battle groups, normally as well, you're attacking these police forces. But in addition to those which are deployed and conducting tactical operations, we've attacked them in their garrison locations which, generally speaking, are on military bases. So the aim points have included army headquarters, the MUP headquarters on the base, as well as storage sheds, maintenance garages and stuff that support the equipment used by both forces.
We've also attacked their headquarters in Pristina and the MUP headquarters and a training institute up in Belgrade itself. And in fact when you-- I'll show you one picture here. These three organizations are really contained in two of the buildings that were attacked last Friday night in downtown Belgrade, as well as two airfields and hangars which support aviation units -- used by the special police.
Next chart please.
Next there are going to be some imagery examples. The clear weather helps us in this regard. Last week we were dealing mostly with clouds.
I think most of you were here when I gave the BDA 101 course after DESERT FOX on Saturday morning, so we'll call this BDA 202, kind of a refresher lesson.
These are the Serbian MUP headquarters in downtown Belgrade and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia MUP headquarters in downtown Belgrade. This is a before picture, before they were struck by cruise missiles last Friday.
The red that is cued here on the "after," for this building and the yellow on the "after" for this building right here.
You may recall that these buildings were completely destroyed by fire, as well as damage which was apparent if you were standing at street level and looking into the buildings.
If you're looking from the overhead perspective, you can see hardly any damage. It would be classified, especially in the case of this building here, as light damage by an imagery analyst that was looking in this kind of imagery.
In fact this building here was completely destroyed. This building here was completely destroyed by fire as well, but the only part that was actually physically collapsed and apparent in the overhead imagery is this wing right here, which is collapsed and destroyed.
But these are the buildings which house those three national level Ministry of Security Police headquarters that I was discussing on a previous chart.
This is the storage depot which belongs to the Third Army, and specifically to the Nis Corps. It's located at Nis. We believe there are SA-6 missiles kept in these sheds, as well as other important ammunition and military supplies.
There was a shed here, which was completely destroyed--you don't even see it--as well as these garages and sheds here, which were destroyed by a precision munition as delivered by NATO fighter aircraft.
Next chart, please.
I know that this is not readily apparent from your perspective, but I want to make some points about attacking forces in the field. This is a cultivated field here. You see here what is probably a storage shed or a barn. This was a staging area for a battle group and a MUP group which were conducting operations in southwest Kosovo. They were attacked at night by B-1s which dropped cluster munitions and other--you can see the cluster munitions patterns here, at this facility. It's not really a facility, it's a staging area out in the open.
We photographed it many hours later, after the sun came up. What you have here are a few tanks and APCs and trucks that remained behind. These were, no doubt, damaged beyond repair and left behind. Others that were probably damaged but not beyond repair had departed by the time these units, this photograph was taken. We have, through other information, that there were significant personnel casualties associated with these attacks suffered by the unit.
But this is the kind of areas, when our aircraft are flying; [we] are able to engage units which are in this kind of an area.
Q: Did you say where this was?
Rear Admiral Wilson: It's in southwest Kosovo.
Q: Near a town?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I'd need to go get the town.
That's in contrast to this picture here, which I think most of you have already seen, but I wanted to use it to show the contrast.
This is the town of Glodane. These are tanks; it's a better photograph, but like the tanks and APCs that we saw in the previous photograph. These are ones that would be very difficult to engage with cluster munitions or with aircraft at altitude because they are in the process of pushing people and herding these villagers into these busses to be essentially taken from their village and moved out of Kosovo.
So we look very hard and are trying to find the forces in the field which are engageable, and where we find them, they are being engaged. Where they are like this, and they can't be engaged without killing innocent people, then they're not engaged, because we don't want to make mistakes on that side of the ledger.
But increasingly we are, I think, having an impact on forces in the field, and the impact--hey are certainly feeling on their fuel and ammo supplies for the attacks we've conducted in their garrisons and the supply areas.
Next chart, please.
I've got some "before's" and "after's." I mentioned the special unit corps; in fact somebody just asked a question about it. This is the headquarters of the special unit corps at the Belgrade army garrison, which is in the outskirts of Belgrade, a nice headquarters building here that was hit over the weekend.
That's a "before."
This is an "after the attack." You can see that cruise missiles destroyed the headquarters of the special unit corps in the outskirts of Belgrade on the Belgrade army garrison.
Q: Anybody in it at the time?
Rear Admiral Wilson: Yes, there were people in it. And we have evidence that there was a morale impact as a result of this strike.
Q: What was the morale impact?
Rear Admiral Wilson: Negative. (Laughter)
Q: Can you describe how...
Rear Admiral Wilson: When you see your comrades killed in strikes in the middle of the night from afar--I guess I'm making some analytical assessments here. We do have some evidence, but it is not conducive to keeping your mind totally on the business at hand.
Q: Did they turn tail and run? Can you describe what...
Rear Admiral Wilson: I won't go into the details on it.
Q: Admiral, since you're on the last slide can I follow...
Rear Admiral Wilson: I'm not on the last slide yet.
Q: Sorry, I'd like to follow that question when you get through with them.
Rear Admiral Wilson: This is the Ministry of Internal Security Institute. This is a location where they conduct, essentially, training for intelligence apparatus saboteurs, people that belong to the Internal Ministry. They go into places like Kosovo and crack down on the internal dissent and their own population. It's a very nice building, also in the suburbs of Belgrade.
Next chart, please.
This is the result after it was struck by cruise missiles on Monday. We might call it severe damage from the air, but for all intents and purposes it's a destroyed building.
Rear Admiral Wilson: I think that is the last one, and I guess you've already got the first question.
Q: Admiral, I just wanted to ask you, what does your HUMINT tell you about morale and resolve throughout the internal army and the paramilitary forces, the MUP, not only in Kosovo but elsewhere? We know today that there was apparently some kind of a trial balloon or something by Milosevic. It would not have had any impact. Are the troops still loyal, do you think, or is there some question?
Rear Admiral Wilson: We have anecdotal reports that morale is declining, and I think that some of the best evidence is the response to calls for increased mobilization, about the number of people who are showing up to round out various units. But the evidence is very much anecdotal. We're trying to put it all together. I don't want to go into great details for obvious reasons of my business. But we do believe we're having an impact on morale.
Q: How do you know...
Q: Admiral, you mentioned you don't want to go after some forces in the field when there are civilians around, but NATO people are saying that particularly last night there was trouble with troops hiding in the forest and parking tanks. You just couldn't find the fielded forces. Can you expand on that?
Rear Admiral Wilson: Well, it's clear that this army is good at using cover, concealment, and deception. And it can take the place of hiding in tree lines and forests and natural terrain. I believe General Shelton mentioned that some of the key enemies here were weather and terrain, as well as the nature of the forests. Or they can take cover and concealment in urban areas or villages.
Q: How much of a problem is that for you?
Rear Admiral Wilson: It's a challenge. It's a challenge. And you have to use the appropriate weapons and the appropriate attack decisions based on the circumstances which are presented.
Q: Admiral, what is your latest intelligence on what the bad guys are up to specifically. Are they continuing their ethnic cleansing, or are they setting up defensive positions against the possibility of a ground invasion? What are the forces up to right now?
Rear Admiral Wilson: According to Belgrade, they're going to have a ceasefire and pull back. I'm doubtful, but we'll see.
They have increasingly moved the area of first counterinsurgency operations against the KLA and then ethnic cleansing from the northeast and central Kosovo area to the southwest. And in this part of the country up here, and this is, I'm just using this as a chart -- the triangles don't mean anything right now -- I think it's mopping up operations, you would call it. And down here there's continued efforts to cleanse villages and things like that. At least as of this morning that was our information.
Q: Can you cite some examples for us of how you are degrading? Have you seen any of the units stop in the their tracks because they don't have gas? Have you seen them running out of ammunition or food? Have you gotten...United States...
Rear Admiral Wilson: We have evidence of units that had to go into holding operations or holding patters because of shortages of, specifically of gas and ammo. But also we have seen some reports of food shortages. But I think that's easier to come by, probably.
Once again, we get spotty, anecdotal reports because we don't have the same kind of eyes and ears that we had in there when we had the Kosovo monitoring mission on the ground.
Q: But you're a long way from taking down this military in any significant way. You're starting to affect their operations at the margins, but not at the core?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I think we've also affected them at the core. The strikes in Belgrade certainly were a core issue with them, and I think they're being degraded, really, throughout the structure. But we've aimed very hard at the sustainment mechanisms down in the south, and I think as we continue to have successes against the bridges, that will be an enhanced effect.
Q: Doesn't the army and the intelligence, people whose headquarters were destroyed, do they not have bunkers? Are they still in business underground? What's the status?
Rear Admiral Wilson: Where we find those and know about them, we've attacked some of those successfully as well. But I don't want to get into the details of targeting in this session.
Q: But they are functioning, they're...
Rear Admiral Wilson: They're still functioning, but in a degraded sense.
Q: Could you tell us what are the Predators and other UAVs on line, are you getting tape from them yet? And secondly, has the increased instability enabled you to begin to answer the question what's happened to the young men in Kosovo?
Rear Admiral Wilson: The Predators are on-line. The take is a tactical one, which is used at the theater or below level moreso than here in the Pentagon. And I don't have good evidence about what's happened to the young men. I believe -- this is an assessment -- that many have been killed because the number of reports of that are just too overwhelming to be ignored. And I believe that others have probably departed before the Serb police or military came to their villages, to hide in the mountains or to join the KLA.
Q: The J-2 knows of at least one area of an atrocity in Jovic, 34 bodies in a mass grave, and I believe the Balkans Intelligence Task Force has seen this. Can you talk a little bit about that, and what that means? What do you guys do in response to these confirmed massacres?
Rear Admiral Wilson: The J-2, you said?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I don't have confirmed atrocities. I'm sure there are. I haven't seen that evidence.
Q: Has the movement of...
Rear Admiral Wilson: But I've been on the run this morning as well, so...
Q: Has the movement of the Kosovar civilians leaving the country on the roads and so forth actually interfered with any operations so far in terms of targeting or being able to go after targets?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I'm not aware of any, but I think--excuse me. I'm sure it has. I know there have been times when from the air we could not determine for sure whether a convoy was military trucks, military trucks carrying refugees, or even civilian vehicles, but I can't characterize the numbers and things like that.
Q: Admiral Wilson, will the ceasefire, if there is a ceasefire and if (inaudible) in essence ceases operations, does that simplify or complicate the targeting problem? Does it make it so that they all just simply go into hiding, and you're not going to catch any of them out in the field?
Rear Admiral Wilson: That's really a theoretical question that I can't answer at this time. It depends on really what they do after a ceasefire, whether they pull back into garrison, assembly areas, disappear, go back into Serbia. I just can't answer the question at this point.
Q: Admiral, reports of a ceasefire aside, there has been some reporting over the past few days that Milosevic pay be as close as within a week of expelling all the ethnic Albanians from Kosovo Province. Is the air operation close to a point where it can [stop] that expulsion, or does it simply happen?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I think we've said before that we did not have the expectation of being able to stop ethnic cleansing with an air operation, but to degrade his ability to conduct military operations of this nature in the future.
Q: General Wald, the helicopters, the Apaches going in, we're told now that because they may not be going into Tirane; it may take a couple of weeks for them to get to the point where they can be operative.
If in fact NATO is correct in its assessment, if the ethnic Albanians are out of the country for the most part by then, then what's the purpose of the Apaches? They're an anti-tank/anti-armor weapon, but what are you going to attack with them?
Major General Wald: First of all, I don't think there's been a final decision exactly where they'll go, but there has been a decision they will start moving into Albania. But I would say that it's not a matter of the ethnic Albanians leaving, it's a matter of us degrading, as Admiral Wilson just mentioned, the Kosovo or the FRY army to perform repressive acts on the Albanians. So the idea here is that the mission is not complete for us. That's the commander's decision, and that will continue down that road. So degrading the army is the objective here.
Q: The followup is, if all the refugees have left, will then the campaign continue including using such military, operable weapons as...
Major General Wald: Once again, that's a policy decision. I think that will be made at that level. But from a military perspective, the mission will continue until it's complete and successful.
Q: Can you give us an assessment of the attacks on economic targets? Targets in and around Belgrade -- the bridges, the refineries. And what impact is that having on Milosevic and the Serbian...
Rear Admiral Wilson: The refineries are two major refineries. Both of them were struck. Assessments are still ongoing, in particular the Novi Sad refinery that I think you saw the fire that occurred there last night. I think if the aim points were damaged and destroyed as we believe, it will be out of commission and the Pancevo refinery may be out of commission as well.
On the storage facilities, there's probably more than 100 total fuel storage facilities in Yugoslavia. Some are divided up for the military, others for civilian application. We are emphasizing the military tactical storage facilities as well as the strategic storage facilities. We're not trying to destroy all the fuel, because some of it's in underground bunkers and things like that, but we're going after those things at the storage facility that allow the transshipment of fuel and the movement of fuel from the facility to the military--so pumping stations, risers, transshipment locations for rail cars, trucks, and things like that. We're trying to reduce the mobility of the...
Q: Just to follow up here, what about the power supply to Belgrade and Novi Sad? And fuel supplies for the civilian population? Is this going to run out soon? Is it already being curtailed? And communications, telecommunications, too.
Rear Admiral Wilson: Telecommunications I think are being curtailed somewhat because some of the [inaudible] rails which have been destroyed are essentially dual use, and the military uses civilian communications as well, so they're not ended, but they're certainly curtailed with regard to other kinds of infrastructure targets which haven't been attacked. I don't want to comment on those.
Q: Of the fuel facilities, you mentioned 100. Can you tell us approximately how many of those you've hit?
Also, General, you said there have been more than 30 raids in the past 24 hours. Were those just U.S. or are those NATO -- targets hit, I'm sorry.
Major General Wald: I can start with that.
Rear Admiral Wilson: We've attacked more than a dozen.... The 100 includes all the places for civilian fuel, but for the strategic reserves and the military, more than a dozen have been attacked.
Q: Of the 100. And how about the, you said more than 30 have been hit.
Rear Admiral Wilson: Some of these are small; some are large. We're attacking the largest and most important ones and the ones which are primarily associated with the military and strategic reserve.
Major General Wald: I just want to clarify what 30 is. I'm sure you've heard this before, but a clarification is, a target is not necessarily one aim point, if you will. We've gone through this before, but a target could be a target that takes one attack on it with one bomb possibly; or a target may be a target that has one facility that takes several bombs; or a target may be an area that has several different aim points on it, maybe a munition storage area or a POL area as Tom talked about a minute ago.
So the point would be if you hit 30 targets, that may be 100 or more sorties with several hundred bombs, and that may go on for a period of time.
Q: Were these just U.S., or are you talking about NATO...
Major General Wald: They're a combination of U.S. and NATO. And of course we're part of NATO, so...
Q:... last night, General?
Major General Wald: I don't know the sortie count. They're not reporting that.
Q: Going back to the overall question for the average person out there. You were asked how is this going, and the only thing you could really point to was the shortage of gas and ammunition lines. Then you were asked, well, has anything, can you stop the refugees from going out, and you said you were never promising to stop them. So basically you're saying that nothing is going to be able to be done to stop the flow of refugees out, and you have very little to point to.
Can you explain why the average person out there doesn't look at this and say so far we're not doing too well?
Major General Wald: I think we're doing very well with regard to the military objective that was briefed here last week, which was to degrade the military's capability to operate. It's a large military. It's got redundancy. It's got a lot of capability. It's been, I think, seriously degraded in a numbers of ways throughout the country in the course of this bombing campaign, and that's accelerating since the better weather has returned. They've felt it throughout the breadth of the country.
Q:...newspaper that the bodies of 19 American servicemen are being secretly transported from Yugoslavia to Greece and then in turn to the U.S. Is there any truth to this? And if not, are there any American fatalities that the American public doesn't know about?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I'm aware of no fatalities.
Q: Admiral, yesterday the President said that the U.S. and NATO would persist until they prevailed. Today again the White House repeated that the objectives are to achieve a ceasefire, drive the forces out of Kosovo, and safely repatriate the refugees.
Based on your experience, based on what you know from the bombing campaign so far, can this be done with airstrikes alone? Can those three objectives be achieved with airstrikes alone?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I'm going to confine my answers to what I see on the enemy side and what we're doing to it.
Q: Admiral, your assessment, as Milosevic's military gets further degraded, do you have any assessment of whether or not he might be headed towards lashing out, and any evidence that the VJ could be moving towards Montenegro or other areas to create destabilization?
Rear Admiral Wilson: We're acutely aware of press reports, and we know of the threats made to Montenegro and the concerns that President Djukanovic has about a coup down there. He could lash out against any of the front-line states. We have our sensors attuned. We're trying to collect information and analyze it. I'm not going to go into any more details about sources, methods, or assessments, but we're on the best footing we can be to detect any moves toward any of the front-line states.
Q: Do you see any movement of Serb military forces in any of those directions at the moment that cause you concern?
Rear Admiral Wilson: Nothing of increased concern over what we have seen throughout this entire two-week timeframe, and we're concerned about it and have been all along.
Q: I understand that 1,200 Marines are being sent into northern Macedonia from the ship, the 24th MEU. Can you describe what they're--they're going to set up a refugee camp up there? Can you describe what they're going to be doing?
Major General Wald: I don't think the final decision for them to be moved in has been made, but if they were moved, in it would be in conjunction with the humanitarian relief effort and in conjunction with the ARRC forces that are already in place. But from the last I heard, that final decision hasn't been made yet.
Q: Admiral, as you know there's been criticism that the attacks in downtown Belgrade were on empty buildings. Today you told us that you've hit some command bunkers. Obviously, this is sensitive information. But given the criticism that these were symbolic attacks, can you talk about what you've managed to achieve? And specifically, have the 5,000-pound, bunker-busting bombs been used in any attack?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I won't discuss the ordnance, and we've heard the same things said after DESERT FOX. But there is a very negative effect on anybody who has their headquarters, their barracks, their supplies, their administration, their facilities destroyed, and that's what's happening to the Yugoslav army.
Q: Are there any facilities, command facilities, in Yugoslavia that are beyond the reach of American conventional weapons?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I won't comment on that question.
Q: You've used the terms "diminish" and "degrade" in relation to the objectives here. How do you define "diminish" and "degrade?" They're such vague terms. And how close are you to achieving those objectives?
Major General Wald: First of all, it's the commander's assessment in the field for what that will be, but I think Admiral Wilson's kind of defined and articulated in a great way the targets that we're hitting and the effect that's having on not only the FRY but the MUP as well.
The determination of specifically what that will be, I think, will be made at the time, both by the commander in the field, and I think it will depend a little bit on how the FRY does as well.
So I would say that in reference to the question, can we perform the mission, from the military objective, which there are three objectives -- the military objective--we certainly can perform the mission with air power, and we're continuing to do that. And we continue to degrade their forces.
As you see from the weather and the sortie count, the OPTEMPO's only increasing. So I haven't seen any indication whatsoever that we're going to start backing off.
Q: Are you close to achieving those objectives of diminishing and degrading?
Major General Wald: I won't comment on how close we are to that. That's the field commander's...
Q: General Wald...
Mr. Bacon: Just a minute. These gentlemen are involved in a military operation and have to get back. Let me take a few more questions, then I'll take more questions after they leave.
Q: Admiral, can you say whether the ROOSEVELT operations began today? If so, what they bring to the operation.
And second, the British said today that they were using Harriers for what they described as search and destroy missions. Can you tell us whether there are any American planes involved in similar missions and what that represents in terms of the maturity of the operation?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I'd like to talk about carriers, but I'm going to lateral to my operational counterpart.
Major General Wald: I can just say the ROOSEVELT is in place and ready to perform air ops as we speak. What they bring is a complement of over 45 strike aircraft with an additional 15 to 20 support aircraft which increases the total number of aircraft in the region from the U.S. perspective up to about 600. They bring a great capability to the battle and they'll increase our OPTEMPO significantly over the next few days.
Q: Six hundred?
Major General Wald: Total U.S.
Q: U.S., 600 aircraft?
Major General Wald: Approximately.
Q: That sounds pretty high.
Major General Wald: That's counting support and everything else, plus the allies.
Q: That's a lot.
Q: The search and destroy...
Major General Wald: The search and destroy for the carrier?
Q: The use of the Harriers for search and destroy. I'm curious as to whether...
Major General Wald: The Harriers will be treated just like any other surface-to-ground aircraft, attack aircraft, the same way we're treating the F-16s with--they have precision on board. The British Harriers and the Marine Harriers and Navy Harriers that will fly in the area will perform conventional operations.
Q: One more time, that's 600 NATO aircraft total for this operation?
Mr. Bacon: It includes allies in that.
Q: Admiral, you talked about hitting strategic fuel, ammunition, supplies. Can you tell us, when these fielded forces go out of garrison, what do they typically take with them in terms of--is it a 30-day complement of ammunition and fuel? And at what operational pace are you assuming that they're working at now?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I think it varies from battle group to battle group. They probably took at least enough for a couple of weeks of operation in the staging areas outside of their garrisons. We know that some battle groups are lower than others, and we don't have definitive information about the remaining supplies. We just know that in many different groups they're low on fuel and ammo.
Q: Do you think they're husbanding their resources, they're going into hiding and they're coming out and operating when NATO aircraft are not flying? Therefore, they're able to, there may be a majority of these fielded units that could actually continue their operations in the way they've been doing for some time now without any kind of reinforcement.
Rear Admiral Wilson: I think they will need to be reinforced and resupplied to continue to operate for the long period of time. And it's going to get harder and harder to do that as we continue to erode the fuel as well as destroy the lines of communication which bring that fuel into the area of conflict.
Q: What's your estimate of how long...
Rear Admiral Wilson: We don't have a definitive estimate on time at this point.
Q: For both of you, please, if you could address for a moment how this operation is more broadly affecting United States military operations around the world. There has been some juggling in terms of aircraft carriers, airplanes and so on, that create the perception at least that the U.S. military (inaudible) in terms of their obligations around the world.
With the THEODORE ROOSEVELT going into the Adriatic--and it was planned to go to the Gulf to relieve the ENTERPRISE--the KITTY HAWK has had to be brought in from the Pacific to cover the gap in the Gulf, and planes in the Pacific have been put on alert because of the absence of the carrier, airplanes from Incirlik brought out of their Operation NORTHERN WATCH duties to play in the Yugoslav situation.
How serious is this? How thinly stretched is the military as a result of this? And this juggling act with the carriers and the airplanes, how significantly does that impact military obligations in other places around the world?
Major General Wald: I can speak from an operational perspective. I think you almost answered the question when you gave the litany of how flexible our military force is. It necessarily isn't an aircraft carrier or an air wing or anything. It necessarily is what the CINC requires for capabilities in that particular theater. So far we haven't heard complaints from the CINCs that I know of that they can't do the mission.
So we adjust our forces as necessary. If an aircraft carrier moves, we can backfill that with aircraft, and vice versa.
So, as we speak today, the readiness of the U.S. military has been not really affected by this. Of course the forces forward deployed will get priority on spare parts and maintainability.
Kind of ironically I think from a readiness perspective, from an air crew perspective particularly, the readiness probably has increased because we're actually doing the combat mission.
So over time it will take a little bit of a toll, I think, but the way we're handling the forces and moving the forces around, we have the capability to cover all the regions as we speak today.
Q: Are you at all concerned that if something should flare up in another region of the world that this--the former theory of the two MRC situation, will you be running around trying to plug up holes?
Major General Wald: Well, as I was corrected earlier, the number of U.S. aircraft in theater is nothing near the total aircraft or military capability we have today in the U.S. military. Even though it's a fairly sophisticated, a fairly large commitment, we still have a significant amount of forces and reserve that can handle the two MRCs, and the Chairman and the CINCs are well aware of the need in that area.
Q: On the relief operation, it's clearly very large, and you're doing it very rapidly. Could you tell us whether before the air campaign started the civilian leadership had told the military to prepare for contingency plans for such an expanded relief operation?
Major General Wald: I guess the way I could answer that question--yes. The answer is yes, because as you know earlier, I think it was mentioned yesterday and previously, there were over a million tons of relief food prepositioned in the region -- some in Kosovo and some in Belgrade, as a matter of fact. So there was preparation made in advance for the contingency of a humanitarian crisis.
I don't think anybody predicted it would be under these conditions, necessarily or to the magnitude. But I would say that the relief effort was planned out ahead of time in a good way, and I'm really impressed with the speed that it's being done right now, and the military's contributing to that. So the answer is yes.
Mr. Bacon: Gentlemen, thank you very much.
Press: Thank you, gentlemen. Come back and see us. You're welcome any time.
Q: Ken, could you tell us why--I don't know if you mentioned it--could you tell us why you're taking all these congressmen and senators?
A: Sure. As you can imagine, Secretary Cohen is committed to congressional consultation. He's been one, consulting with members of Congress before and during this operation. And secondly, he's made sure that his staff and the staff from the Joint Staff has been available to brief members of Congress. He's making a quick trip over to talk both to alliance leaders and also to see troops on the ground, and he thought that some of his former colleagues in the House and the Senate would be interested in coming on this trip, and that's why he's invited them.
Q: Ken, with Apaches and Multiple [Launch] Rocket launchers headed for Albania at some point, NATO is careful every day to say that it would view very seriously Serb attempts, Yugoslav attempts, to broaden the war, for instance, in response to those forces.
What's left to threaten? Is there a new threat against Milosevic if he seeks to go across that border? What's left? He's being hit already from the air.
A: We can always intensify the strikes, and we can use a broader array of weapons in the strikes. But I think that you accurately stated that we have said there would be grave consequences to an expansion of the war, and I'll leave that to his imagination. I think he sees what we've been able to bring to bear on him so far, and he knows that we have many more resources.
Q: So you would intensify the intensification? I don't understand.
A: I think you understand. I think you just stated it. We can always intensify faster.
Q: Ken, what do you have on this apartment complex that was apparently hit last night?
A: Not much. We're reviewing what happened. It appears that a bomb fell short of its target. It was being aimed at a military target and hit a--appears to have hit an apartment building. One reason it could have happened was a cloud interfered with the laser-guided mechanism of the bomb, but we're in the process of reviewing that.
We've said from the very beginning that we will work hard to hold civilian casualties to a minimum, and we are not targeting civilians. We are not fighting the people of Yugoslavia. Quite the opposite. This is a campaign against the military leadership of Yugoslavia that's been used to oppress the people of Kosovo. However, it is a combat operation. There are risks to every combat operation, and those risks cannot be--they can be minimized, but not avoided.
Q: Was it a British, American, some other ally? And how big a munition was it?
A: I don't know the size, I believe it was a 500-pound bomb, and it was an American plane. As I say, we're in the middle of reviewing what happened.
Q: Do you know what kind of plane it was?
A: I think I'll just wait until the review is finished.
Q: I wonder if you could connect the dots for us. You have said, and other Administration officials have said that you're not going to put any ground troops on Kosovo unless it's a permissive environment. You've also said that your objective, or one of your objectives, is to get the refugees back home.
My question is, how can you get the refugees back home without some kind of escort force? And are there any studies underway, planning underway by the Pentagon or NATO to come up with such an escort armed force?
A: First, the President has been very clear about the conditions that must, that we want to achieve. Starting with the military goal, the military mission here is to degrade and diminish his force and his ability to oppress the Kosovar people.
The President has said that our goals using military force because diplomacy has failed, that our goals are one, a ceasefire; two, a withdrawal of forces; three, a commitment to democratic self-government; and four, an acceptance of an internationally, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force. If those four conditions are met, we believe then the fifth goal of getting refugees back into Kosovo to live in peace and stability can be achieved. Those are the dots.
As some of you know, the Yugoslav government today, an official of the Yugoslav government, proposed a ceasefire and a withdrawal. We think this is not sufficient. It does not meet the four goals that President Clinton has outlined repeatedly, nor would it establish a condition that would allow one refugee to return with any confidence of living in a safe and secure environment. So this is not an offer that meets the requirements that we've laid down.
Q: Do you think Milosevic has blinked, though, two weeks after these airstrikes?
A: I think that this offer may be one sign that he's rattled, but we're going to continue to rattle him until he makes an offer that meets our conditions, and he's far away from that right now.
Q: In this Balkan mess, do you guarantee the territorial integrity of Greece in the northern borders on a bilateral basis?
A: Questions of territorial integrity are probably more a State Department question than a Defense Department question. But Greece is clearly a NATO ally, a very valued NATO ally, and as a member of NATO, it has the same Article V protections as every other member of NATO.
Q: What about FYROM?
A: I think that we've made it very clear that we are committed to the protection of the Federal [sic, Former] Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Q: Pope John Paul II on Sunday in a homily in Rome was very critical of the Serbs' ethnic expulsion in Kosovo, but he was equally as critical of NATO's bombing, the violence, and he said basically let's get back to negotiations, let's have a ceasefire, which is what the Serbs are saying.
So how do you respond to the criticism of NATO and the U.S. by the Pope and what about getting back to talking?
A: We always take seriously what His Holiness says. The point here is we tried talk. We tried to settle this diplomatically. We did not want to use force. But diplomacy failed, and there was no choice but to try to prevail in our goals through the use of force. It was Milosevic who made that decision; it was Milosevic who brought this upon himself. And I think the blame for this should be very clear. And it's Milosevic who can stop it by meeting conditions that will allow the Kosovo people to return to living in peace and stability in Kosovo.
Q: But no talking can occur until Milosevic concedes those four points.
A: I think it would be foolhardy to allow Milosevic to depopulate an area, to carry out ethnic cleansing on a vast scale, and then reward him by saying, okay, it's all right for you now to declare a peace and to invite people back in who have absolutely no possibility of returning to an area where they have no protection.
Q: Two quick questions. One, the transshipment of the refugees. Will they be flown in, say, C-130s from Tirane or somewhere to Ramstein for instance, then put on board large aircraft?
The second, do you have any word on the three POWs?
A: In terms of the people that we're going to bring temporarily to Guantanamo Bay, I don't know their exact route. I don't know whether they'll be transshipped through Germany or not. That will be worked out in the next day or so, and when we know the details, we'll certainly get General Wald or General McDuffie or somebody down here to talk to you about that. As I say, we hope to be able to arrange press coverage of these operations as well.
In terms of the three POWs, Stone, Ramirez and Gonzalez, they remain in captivity. We believe they should be released, but they are still in captivity.
Q: Do you have an estimate as to how long it will take Milosevic to empty out Kosovo Province of its ethnic Albanians?
A: I do not have an estimate of that, no.
Q: How many ethnic Albanians are in Kosovo?
A: I don't know the full answer to that question. You should have asked Admiral Wilson. He's the man who has all those figures.
Q: Two questions. Do you know why the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is apparently not on the list to go with you? And was he invited?
A: He was invited to go. At one time he was scheduled to go. I think there was a scheduling problem of some sort. You'll have to ask him that. But he was certainly invited to go, and we would--there's room for him on the plane, and if he would like to come, we'd be glad to have him.
Q: A second question, I must have missed something. General Wald referred to a second title called SHINING HOPE which he said was the CJTF headquarters that's about to be announced. Can you elaborate on that?
A: CJTF means combined joint task force. It's a NATO construct to set up emergency or sort of ad hoc operations on a quick basis. This is the name of the task force that will be running the humanitarian operation. He said he didn't know where it would be headquartered in the area.
Q: Admiral Wilson said he was not aware of American fatalities. Can you tell us the source or what--any idea where this report in a Greek newspaper came from, that is an account of 19 American servicemen...
A: I cannot tell you. Maybe Mr. Papantoniou tell you. But I will tell you that there is a lot of misinformation floating around the Balkans. I have a hard enough time explaining what comes out of this building, let alone reports that ricochet through the Balkans and may well be based on propaganda or rumor.
Q: So there are no American fatalities that you know of?
A: There are no American fatalities that I know of. Right.
Q: I understand, you can't have been more clear over the last two weeks about no ground troops. What has been hard for me, I want to believe that there's a wise reason behind that of announcing that in advance. Can you explain what the thinking is? It seems like we've played our cards with him. He knows that they're not out there. So what is the reason why we say in advance we're not going to send in ground troops?
A: Look. This military operation is unique in one fundamental respect which is it's an allied operation supported by an alliance containing 19 members. I do not believe, nor does Secretary Cohen believe that there was support within this operation, within this alliance, to get the consensus necessary to deploy ground troops into Kosovo. The decision was made after an analysis last fall, that we could achieve our goals through air power. That's the first reason.
The second reason is that I don't believe there was U.S. support in Congress several months ago -- either last fall or earlier this year -- to send ground troops into Kosovo. Clearly, some members of Congress believe we should have done that and believe we should do it now, but I don't think that if you'd taken a vote in the House of Representatives or the Senate two months ago, or even a month ago, that you would have found support for ground troops.
Third, and I think this is very important because I think there's some fuzzy thinking about the saving aspect of ground troops. Had the alliance made a decision to commit ground troops, we still would have had to prepare the way for ground troops with an air assault on the considerable force levels that Milosevic has moved in, had moved into Kosovo well prior to the NATO attacks on March 24th. He started moving these in under the cover of the Rambouillet talks.
So, on the one hand, while he was stiff-arming the negotiations and refusing to agree, he was on the other hand pushing his forces quickly into Kosovo to increase his combat power there. It is very clear to us now that he planned exactly the type of ethnic cleansing that he has carried out. It's very clear to us that he would have done this whether or not we were assembling ground troops or not. It would have taken some time to move a significant NATO force down into the Balkans and then into Kosovo, and during that time he would have had the opportunity to do exactly the brutal depopulation that he's performed over the last several weeks.
Q: Is there an opportunity now that we've had two weeks experience here for the North Atlantic Council to look at it again and say, okay, six months ago we didn't think ground troops, but now maybe we're getting to the point where we want to do that. Is there that opportunity?
A: There is always an opportunity for the North Atlantic Council to evaluate the situation, and they do that on almost a daily basis at this administration.
The fact of the matter is, I do not believe anybody believes at this stage--I don't believe the North Atlantic Council believes or this administration believes that the conditions yet are right for introducing ground troops into Kosovo. There is still a considerable military force in Kosovo. It is dug in. It has armor. It has rockets. It has APCs. And they know the territory. It's rugged territory. As I've said many times, there are only 14 roads, I believe, that lead into Kosovo, two from Macedonia. It's not an easy place to get into. They have been mining bridges and doing other things that would make an invasion difficult.
It's clear that Milosevic has had one hope and one fear. His hope was that he would be able to cleanse the Kosovar majority, the Albanian Kosovar majority out of Kosovo. That's what he's been working on aggressively.
His fear was that NATO would invade. But had NATO chosen to invade some time ago, it would have taken a long while to put that invasion into place, and, as I said, we would have had to prepare the battlefield with an air campaign similar to what we're doing now.
Q: To follow up on ground troops, what exactly was the purpose of announcing our intentions not to send them and ruling them out at the start, and thus telegraphing our intentions to Milosevic?
A: As I tried to explain, as I think every newspaper reader knows, this has been an alliance decision that's been made over a long period of time. In the course of the decision-making process, we worked extremely hard to achieve a diplomatic solution. Alliances can only do so much. We believe we are much stronger from being an alliance than from being outside of an alliance, but alliances do have to deal with political realities. A decision was made that this job could be done with air power.
Q: Following the question earlier I asked, you didn't really answer the follow [on] which is do you have any studies underway for an escort force or whatever you want to call it, so the refugees can feel safe to go back to Kosovo if that day should come? In other words, is the Pentagon or NATO, to your knowledge, at least planning for that contingency of some kind of an armed escort force?
A: We clearly have plans and have had them for some time for so-called KSFOR, Kosovo Stabilization force. That's what has been prepositioned in Macedonia. I'm not aware of any new planning for an armed escort force that would bring people under protective cover back into Kosovo.
I want to go back to the four conditions that the President has mentioned, that I have mentioned, that everybody in the government has mentioned time after time. If those conditions are met, we believe -- and one of those conditions is acceptance of a NATO-led international peacekeeping force--we believe the refugees will be able to return home.
Q: One quick follow on the three prisoners. Any outside contact, or any contact with the outside world? And do you understand they're not going to be tried?
A: The Yugoslav government has announced that they will be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention and not be tried, and that they will be released at the end of the hostilities. I'm not aware that there has been any outside contact with them.
Q:...embargo on military sales to Greece for (inaudible)?
A: I haven't looked at that recently, but my understanding is that the investigation is not over. But I will check that for you.
Q:...has been quick to say that the offer of a unilateral ceasefire or the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire is not sufficient. But how confident are you that NATO as an alliance will come to that same judgment? And to what extent are the trips of both the Chairman and the Secretary intended to make sure that some members of the alliance don't see this as sufficient reason to stop the bombing?
A: First of all, I'm quite confident that NATO will come to the same conclusion, and I expect that the Secretary General will have a statement to that effect, will have one this afternoon if it hasn't been issued already.
Secondly, both the Chairman and the Secretary planned their trips prior to this sort of fake compromise that's been offered by Milosevic.
Q: What can you say about the way conditions have changed on the ground for Serb troops over the past two weeks? And what sort of future are they looking at?
A: I think that Admiral Wilson answered that question, but if you want me to answer it again, clearly, we are working aggressively to choke off their supplies, to make it more difficult for them to sustain themselves. And while we're working on the one hand to choke off their supplies, we are going to work more aggressively under the clarity of better weather to attack the forces in the field in Kosovo. So those are the two main things we're going to continue doing.
We have also in the last two weeks worked hard to rock them in their headquarters by attacking the headquarters of the internal police and of the VJ, and we will continue to strike at headquarters close to the heart of the regime and the types of targets that are used to command, control, and sustain the forces in Yugoslavia.